Executive Briefing

Podcast listening is down as people work from home

Is that bad? Also: Nike’s Covid-19 strategy, and launching office hours for members.

As millions of people work from home to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, we’ve already seen shifts in behavior and spending, such as the booms in videoconferencing and online grocery shopping.

One thing people have seemingly been doing less, so far, is listening to podcasts — presumably with some connection to the fact that so many have suddenly stopped commuting to work.

In the US, weekly podcast audiences decreased 8% last week, on a week-over-week basis, after decreasing 2% the prior week, according to Podtrac, which analyzes podcast publisher data covering more than a billion downloads per month. Podcast consumption — both weekly downloads and audience size — is still up on the year, according to Podtrac. But the downward tick is noticeable.

Chart of the Day

Year-to-date US podcast download and audience growth chart

Another data point: Last week, during the week, user sessions for the Overcast podcast app were down about 20% from recent normal levels, according to the app’s developer, Marco Arment, citing Apple’s analytics. But weekend usage, so far, seem unaffected, he says.

Zooming in a bit deeper, the audience for news podcasts has grown the most this year, according to Podtrac. This makes sense: As the coronavirus has come to dominate all facets of attention, traffic to news publishers has soared. Comedy, sports, society and culture, and true crime podcasts are doing relatively worse, Podtrac says.

Is this bad?

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my twice-weekly, member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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